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Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes


Mediterranean food lovers adore red wine vinegar for its color and strong grape flavor. While it is a tasty option for recipes, it does not offer much in terms of nutrients. Here’s a red wine vinegar substitute list with options that provide additional nutrients or work as a swap when you can’t find any red wine vinegar in your cupboard.

What is red wine vinegar?

Red wine vinegar is made from fermented red grapes. The process for making this vinegar begins with red wine and water. Bacteria are added to this mixture which aids in fermenting it into vinegar.

Red wine vinegar is often described as tangy, strong, and sour. Common uses for this vinegar include salad dressing and marinades for meat. It is used in multiple cuisines; however, it is most commonly found in Mediterranean dishes.

Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

1. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar works well as a substitute for red wine vinegar because it is also created from wine. Having the same base of grapes creates similarities between the two kinds of vinegar. They both have a similar amount of acidity as well as a grape flavor and slight sweetness.

White wine vinegar has a much more subtle flavor than red wine vinegar. This makes it versatile, though at the same time providing a lighter taste to the final dish. You can use white wine vinegar in nearly all red wine vinegar recipes – especially salad dressings.

White wine vinegar is chock full of antioxidants which are produced by the polyphenols in the vinegar.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use white wine vinegar in a 1:1 ratio as a sub for red wine vinegar.
  • You can change the ratio to 1 ¼ tablespoon of white wine vinegar for a more robust flavor as a sub for every tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

You can substitute red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar for some dishes. Apple cider vinegar provides sweetness and tanginess. You’ll find apple cider vinegar to be sweeter, less bitter, and have a milder flavor than what red wine vinegar provides.

As apple cider vinegar has a sweeter taste than red wine vinegar, it will not pair well with every dish. Use apple cider vinegar for marinades and salad dressings and avoid recipes that are not meant to have a sweet flavor.

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits, including probiotics and antioxidants.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
  • Choose apple cider vinegar when the recipe calls for a small amount of vinegar.

3. Rice Wine Vinegar

Use rice wine vinegar as a red wine vinegar alternative when looking for an ingredient that adds bitterness, tanginess, and acidity to a dish. Rice vinegar is most commonly used in Asian-inspired dishes like sushi and stir-fries.

This vinegar has a subtle flavor which is a double-edged sword. It allows the seasoning to be added, making it versatile and work in more dishes. On the other hand, it does not provide much flavor to recipes. Rice vinegar can be used for most red wine vinegar recipes, including rice dishes and even salad dressings.

Unseasoned rice vinegar is typically gluten-free and works well for those who have celiac disease or who have dietary restrictions.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio instead of red wine vinegar.
  • Season the rice vinegar as needed for each recipe. Don’t use the rice vinegar as is, or the dish will be lacking.

4. Lemon Juice/ Lime Juice

Lemon juice and lime juice work as a replacement for red wine vinegar because of the acidity of these citrus fruits. This helps to provide bitterness and slightly sour flavor to dishes that red wine vinegar typically offers.

Lemon and lime juice have a strong citrus flavor which will be noticeable in dishes. They also provide a slight sweetness that you’ll usually find in red wine vinegar. The grape flavor will be missing from this substitute, though it still adds brightness to dishes. Both of these juices can be incorporated into marinades, dressings, and cooked dishes to provide flavor.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use lemon juice/lime juice in a 1:1 ratio as a substitution for red wine vinegar.
  • Do not use these citrus juices in recipes where red wine vinegar is intended to be the main ingredient as the taste will be too different.

5. Sherry Vinegar

This red wine vinegar option does not have additional health benefits. However, it does work well to flavor meals when the other options are not available. Sherry vinegar adds a sweet and bitter taste to dishes.

Sherry vinegar is another option that has a milder flavor. For this reason, you’ll want to increase the amount of sherry vinegar used in your dish depending on your desired taste. Use sherry vinegar as a final garnish in vinaigrettes or sauces.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio instead of red wine vinegar.
  • Opt for sherry vinegar in savory dishes that can be sweeter.

6. Red Wine

Red wine is another sub for red wine vinegar. It does not offer the same bitterness or acidity as vinegar. However, it will provide a nice grape flavor to dishes as well as sweetness.

Red wine is not suitable as a substitute for all dishes. It works best for stews, soups, sauces, and red meats due to its flavoring.

Red wine is also ripe with antioxidants and is believed to be why French people remain healthy even when consuming higher fat foods (pastries and cheese).

Red wine can also be combined with some of the other alternatives to provide a boost of flavor and complex notes. Try it with white wine vinegar to create a bolder taste in recipes that white wine vinegar does not offer alone.

Cooking Tips:

  • Start with a splash of red wine in your recipe and adjust as needed.
  • You can use red wine as a marinade or flavoring for beef.

7. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar provides sweetness to dishes as well as the sour taste vinegar is known for. There is a difference in the consistency as balsamic vinegar is much thicker than red wine vinegar.

You will find similar flavor notes in this replacement, as it is also made from grapes. However, balsamic vinegar has a more complex flavor that includes notes of molasses, fig, and other fruits.

This vinegar works well in salad dressings, marinades, and as drizzled over meats/vegetables. If you need to cut the sweetness, you can add some lemon or lime juice into the vinegar before using it in recipes. This addition will also thin out the consistency to more closely match that of red wine vinegar.

Keep in mind; it’s best not to use this vinegar in cooked recipes. It works well in raw dishes and as a topping on cooked meat and vegetables.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use balsamic vinegar in a 1:1 ratio for salad dressings.
  • For other recipes, add in lemon juice to balance out the sweetness in a 1:1 ratio.

8. Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste is another contender for replacement ingredients. It provides a tangy taste similar to that of red wine vinegar. However, you will notice tamarind paste has a much stronger flavor in general.

As it is not vinegar, the taste will not be an exact match. Tamarind paste is best used in small quantities because of this. It also has a much thicker consistency since it is a paste and not a liquid. You can mix a small amount of white wine vinegar or similar vinegar to offset the thickness, creating a more similar flavor.

Tamarind paste does not work well in all dishes due to its bold flavor. It can also be difficult to find in stores unless you live near an Indian or Asian marketplace.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use ½ tablespoon of tamarind paste for every tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
  • Dilute tamarind paste with water or another vinegar before using it for a thinner consistency.

9. Champagne Vinegar

Like red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar also originates from grapes providing a similar fruity flavor. The types of grapes used, however, are different. Champagne vinegar is created by combining chardonnay and pinot noir grapes fermented by adding bacteria into the liquid.

In terms of taste, champagne vinegar is sweeter than red wine vinegar (similar to red wine versus white wine). This sweetness can limit the recipes that champagne vinegar works with. Champagne vinegar is also milder than red wine vinegar, so you need to use a larger amount when substituting.

It has a similar consistency as red wine vinegar, so champagne vinegar should work well in most recipe swaps. You can use this vinegar in salads, sauces and add a sour kick to any dish.

Cooking Tips:

  • Start with a 1:1 ratio, then add more as needed.
  • Try champagne vinegar in rich sauces as a way to lighten them, like hollandaise.

10. Raspberry Vinegar

As raspberry vinegar is also created from fruit, you’ll have a similar fruity taste. There are some flavor differences as raspberry vinegar is sweeter than red wine vinegar. However, this vinegar provides a similar color making it a great replacement in recipes where the color of the finished dish/sauce is important.

If the recipe calls for additional sweeteners like sugar or honey, consider using less to avoid an overly sweet dish. You can use raspberry vinegar for tasty salad dressings/ vinaigrettes. Other uses include sauces and marinades.

You will not easily find this vinegar on store shelves like red wine vinegar. However, it’s easy to make at home with a few ingredients making it a good replacement. If you’re short on time, use a different substitute to avoid the vinegar-making process.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio when replacing red wine vinegar.
  • Start with ½ the sweetener (if called for) in the recipe when using raspberry vinegar. Increase as needed.

11. White Vinegar

You can substitute most types of vinegar for each other. White vinegar can be used, but only as a last resort. It provides a vinegar taste to dishes, though it has a strong, sour taste and lacks any sweetness.

This type of vinegar is most commonly found in kitchens making it easily accessible. Because of its stark taste, you are limited in the number of recipes. There will be a taste variance when using white vinegar in dishes.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use ½ the required amount when using white vinegar as a swap.
  • This substitute works best when used for cooked dishes, not raw like salad dressings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar?

Yes, you can substitute apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will provide a sweeter flavor to dishes so that the final taste will be different from red wine vinegar.

What is a substitute for red wine vinegar in cooking?

White wine vinegar is a great alternative to red wine vinegar. It will provide the most similar flavor notes and can be used in nearly all recipes that require red wine vinegar.

Is red wine vinegar the same as balsamic vinegar?

No, red wine vinegar is not the same as balsamic vinegar. Red wine vinegar is made from fermented grapes and has a strong grape flavor. Balsamic vinegar is created from unfermented grapes and has a sweet, smoky flavor.

Is red wine vinegar the same as red cooking wine?

No, red wine vinegar and red cooking wine are not the same. Red wine vinegar is created from fermented red wine, whereas red cooking wine does not go through the second fermentation. They both offer a similar flavor in cooking though red cooking wine does not have the same acidity.

Summary

Next time you’re in a pinch, try the above alternatives as a sub for red wine vinegar. The top options are either white wine vinegar or a combination of white wine vinegar with a splash of red wine.

The flavor profiles of these choices will create the closest flavor to red wine vinegar. Only those who have a sensitive palate will be able to tell the difference. Otherwise, your table guests will not be able to tell you used an alternative.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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